How They Died

The ants were marching single file straight up the hill and down the other side. Left, right, up, down they went on their way.

I lay on my belly watching them, with the grass poking my folded arms where I rested my head. There were hundreds of ants, united by a single purpose, however mysterious. I was relieved to know where they were, so that the tickling itching sensation of my skin against the grass was less troublesome.

The heat of the day didn’t seem like a factor to the ants and I wondered if they felt heat. No matter. I drifted off in the warm, lazy breeze. When I opened my eyes the line of ants was gone.

The sun was lower in the sky and I felt damp from the being on the ground. I squeezed my eye lids between my fingers, prying the contacts gently away from my eyes. My mouth was dry. Reaching for my water bottle, I looked around. I was on a slight rise in the park. The hill in the direction where the ants had gone sloped gently downward toward a small playground.

Standing, I stretched and walked awkwardly toward the slide. My ankle rolled into a dip in the grass—a gopher hole that had been partially plugged with a wax coated paper cup. I stood over it, looking into the cup half full of a bright red juice, blackened with ants. Why hadn’t the last ants climbed out on the bodies of those that had drowned before them?  In the oral history of this anthill, the holy grail had proven deadly, this day that the ancestors died.

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